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Makgadikgadi Saltpans

Riding ability: (?)

Suitable for: non-riders families

Makgadikgadi Saltpans

Six days on horseback exploring the meandering shoreline of the remote and mysterious Makgadikadi Saltpans. Experience extraordinary landscapes; desert-adapted Kalahari wildlife from meerkats to brown hyenas; the history of Livingstone, Selous and other explorers; and travel with Zu/'Hoasi Bushmen. In the dry season ride fast out into the heart of the Pans and still arrive nowhere. In the wet season, ride with the last surviving migration of zebra and wildebeest in Southern Africa.

Stay in Camp Kalahari, a traditional tented safari camp or sleep on bedrolls under the stars. David will be leading two safaris every month between May and December.

Horse riding holiday AfricaHorse riding holiday Africa

The MIGRATION SEASON is with us. The rain has finally arrived in Botswana filling the Makgadikgadi Pans with water making the most awe inspiring backdrop as we ride with the thousands and thousands of zebra and wildebeest that fill the grasslands around the Pans. An extraordinary spectacle and one of the great riding experiences of Africa. In December we hosted Lucinda Green and her friends. Everyone loved the safari and two of the guests are already booked to come back to try out the ride in the dry season.

As well as the zebra and wildebeest we had fabulous sightings of unusual Kalahari species including lion (mother with two cubs), aardwolf and bat eared fox. And just missed a cheetah that was seen the day before we arrived.

Good news as well - we are able to confirm that a single traveller willing to share accommodation does not need to pay a Single Supplement. 

horse riding holiday in botswanaDay One:

On arrival by air or road, you will be greeted by your host and guide David Foot and settled into Camp Kalahari, nestled amongst the acacias and Mokolwane palms of brown Hyaena Island, on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Saltpans, adjacent to the Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans National Park, Botswana.

It's refreshingly simple, yet comfortable, with a traditionally built thatch library, living/dining area and a swimming pool for those hot Kalahari days.

Camp Kalahari has 10 spacious Meru tents; 7 Twin tents, 2 Double tents and 1 Family tent consisting of 2 adjacent tents, accommodating 2 guests in each with an inter-leading bathroom.

All tents have en-suite outdoor bathrooms, flush loos, hot and cold running water, along with comfy beds, crunchy cotton sheets, stripy African blankets and hot water bottles in winter.

Head off after tea in the beautiful afternoon light, for an introductory ride - primarily to match horse and rider but also your first opportunity to experience the beauty of this magical area.

Return to camp for sundowners followed by dinner and to kraal the horses close by, before the lions of the Kalahari commence their nightly prowling.

Day Two:

Up with the dawn, a light breakfast is followed by a long morning ride through the 'land of a thousand islands'. Stranded on the ancient lakebed, these sand dunes covered in palm trees are one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas of the Botswana wilderness.

At the height of the migration season, the islands and adjoining grasslands are awash with zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest and ostrich - and of course the attendant predators!

The white encrusted pans between the islands provides excellent going for the horses, but if there has been a lot of rain then many of these areas will be full of water, attracting several species of migratory water birds.

Return to camp for lunch and rest through the heat of the day in the welcome shade of the camel thorn trees or cool off in the camp swimming pool.

After tea, head off by vehicle to see some unique desert species such as springbok, gemsbrok, red hartebeest, and the elusive brown hyaena; these consummate desert specialists survive in arid areas where both food and water are scarce. The brown hyaena is a timid nocturnal, soliatary forager, rarely seen by humans, but in spite of this are very social animals, living in clans of up to 10-12 hyaenas.

Enjoy a night game drive back to camp, and with the aid of a spot light, look for nocturnal desert inhabitants, such as aardvark, bat eared foxes, aardwolves, porcupine, honey badgers and perhaps even a black maned Kalahari lion.

Arrive at Camp Kalahari in time for dinner.

Camp on horse riding holiday in Botswana

Day Three:

Today is a long ride eastwards to Xau Xai Fly Camp, so an early start is imperative. Be sure to pack a few essentials for the next two days of adventure. The journey takes us away from the edge of the Pans and through the mopane and acacia woodlands interspersed with short grasslands allowing for lovely long, relaxed canters. Whilst the area is rich in birds of prey, bustards, korhaans and numerous other unusual dry woodland bird species; there is also a chance that we might see kudu and the odd elephant bull.

By lunchtime we reach the famous Greens Baobab proudly positioned alongside the well-travelled Missionary Road, traversed by David Livingstone on his journeys northwards. The magnificent trunk of this ancient tree is scarred with the initials of early travellers dating back some 150 years, thus providing a living testimony to the rich history of the area. Break for lunch at the adjacent Gusta Pan under a stand of palm trees where we may find Stone Age artefacts and the hunting blinds used over millennium by Bushmen.

Siesta through the midday heat and after tea, continue the journey on to Xau Xai Fly Camp.

Camp will be made up of comfortable dome tents, a central mass tent, loos and bucket showers. Enjoy a long cool drink as you watch the sunset followed by dinner out under the magnificent Kalahari sky.

Day Four:

Wake up to a steaming hot cup of coffee and a light breakfast, before heading off on your horses in search of some of the Kalahari's most fascinating inhabitants, the meerkats.

With our horses tethered we will proceed on foot in to the midst of the group. Due to an ongoing habituation programme by Uncharted Africa Safari co. it's possible for us to get up close and personal with these captivating creatures. Remember they are not tame - just used to our non-threatening presence.

On chilly mornings, you might well find a meerkat snuggling up to you for warmth. Or, in the absence of a termite mound or tree, using your head as a sentry lookout post....

By spending quality time with these incredibly social, superbly adapted animals, you will be able to see how they interact with each other and their environment. You also get the chance to see the desert through the eyes of a meerkat - which, despite the fact that it's only a foot off the ground, is a pretty spectacular vantage point, and definitely one of the most special and memorable game experiences you will encounter in Botswana.

As the day warms up, leave the meerkats to continue foraging. Mount up and follow the well-worn trails that lead to the resident herds of zebra and large congregations of ostriches attracted to the area by permanent freshwater in hidden waterholes.

Return to Xau Xai for lunch, a refreshing shower and a siesta in the shade of the mess tent.

In the late afternoon, take a walk to a nearby permanent waterhole to look for many of the Kalahari's special bird species and, as the sun sets, watch the hundreds of sand grouse fly in for a drink.

Return to camp for another beautiful evening under a Kalahari sky with a delicious dinner around the campfire.

Day Five:

As the dawn greets this extraordinary landscape and the last of the stars disappear, wake for a light breakfast before mounting up and heading homewards at a fast pace sometimes riding along the edge of the Pans and at other times heading into the woodlands and open grasslands where the zebra and wildebeest graze.

From a great distance the famous Chapman's Baobab appears on the horizon. Also known as the Seven Sisters, it is acknowledged to be one of the largest trees in Africa, measuring 25 metres around its girth, and was the campsite of early explorers like Livingstone and Selous when they pioneered the area.Horse riding holiday on safari in Botswana, Africa

It is near here that we break for lunch before our final ride back across the grasslands and into camp.

As the sun dips below the horizon and the last light fades, we will be sure to dwell on these amazing past few days. Incredible scenery, memorable wildlife encounters and above all superb riding!

Arrive at Camp Kalahari in time for a refeshing shower and a final Camp Kalahari lamp lit dinner.

Day Six:

The horses are loaded early and trucked to their home base in Maun. A non-riding day commences with an early morning walk with Zu/'Hoasi Bushmen trackers.

Uncharted Africa has pioneered and passionately supported cultural tourism in Botswana since the company's inception.

They have been working closely with the Zu/'Hoasi people of the Western Kalahari for many years and are priveleged to have a small group of these extraordinary men to guide guests on a morning's walking safari.

Offering a window into the past, they teach us how they have survived in this harshest of environments, using their vast and ancient knowledge of plants, animal behaviour and survival skills.

Time for one more lunch; before you bid farewell to Camp Kalahari in preparation for your onward journey.  

Please note: This itinerary is for the Wet Season - during the Dry Season, on Day Four, the group will ride out onto the Pans and sleep there under the stars. It is unsafe to do this during the Wet Season and so the night is spent back at Xau Xai Fly Camp.

2012 Prices:

5 nights, full board, £1,875pp

Single Supplement: £95 per night (none if willing to share)

Includes: All food and drink

Not Included: Flights and Travel Insurance; Local gratuity

2012 Dates:

Dry Season  
May 3rd - 8th fully booked May or 8th -13th
June 6th -11th fully booked provisionally June or 30th June -5th (July)
July see June or 30th July - 4th (August)
August see July or 28th August - 2nd September
September 2nd - 7th September
October 2nd - 7th October or 26th - 31st October


Wet Season  
January 6th - 11th or 11th - 16th
February 4th - 9th or 9th -14thfully booked
March 5th -10th or 10th -15th
April 3rd -8th or 8th -13th
October 31st - 4th (November)
November 25th - 30th or 30th - 4th (December)
December 23rd -28th or 28th - 2nd (January 2103)
January see Decmeber

Meeting Point: Maun Airport

Indicative flight price: London to Maun £800 - £1200pp return depending on time of year

Transfer: £210 pp each way from Maun to Tsigaro (Pans)

Number of hours in saddle: approx 4-6

Maximum Weight: 95kg

Group Size: maximum 8

Suitable for non-riders: No

Suitable for Children: Yes (12 years and older, unless younger children are extremely confident and competent riders)

Additional Information: For fly camping on the Pans, smaller overnight bags are recommended. There is no electricity in the camp.

Call us on +44 (0)1225 000000 or email contact@redlandsequestrian.com to check the ride availability and dates, once we have confirmed availability you can download and fill in a booking form:

Each rider in the party must also complete a riding ability questionnaire before we can complete the final confirmation of your holiday booking.

Accepted Payment Types